Did you know that throughout history February 2nd has been a day of celebration?  On this day... people would celebrate the coming of Spring and the soon to come end of Winter.  In different parts of the world farmers begin tilling the earth on this day, preparing their gardens to be planted.  Pretty neat how it is also "Groundhog's Day" where we wait to see if Punxsutawney Phil is going to predict a few more weeks of winter or not. Over time this day has evolved into many different names within many different cultures... Imbolc, St. Brigid's Day, Candlemas.

Whichever name you wish to call this day... it is a day that many use as a time for purification, cleansing, beginning anew... i.e., spring cleaning!  It is also a time used for creativity and commitment.  So say your new year's resolution didn't quite work out for you over the past four weeks... Well here's another chance.! Start fresh... for now is the time to celebrate all things new.  Give your house a thorough cleaning and even yourself!  Commit to yourself to make a change... to rid yourself of the lulls of Winter and energize yourself for the coming Spring!  Open your windows and let the chilly air and the warm sun cleanse out the stale and stagnant air in your home. 

The Romans also celebrated this day by dedicating it to Goddesses Venus and Diana... both Goddesses of Love.  The first flower of Spring was associated with these Goddesses hence the timing of this day as well.  Not to mention the month of February was named for Goddess Februa... the Goddess of Fresh Starts.  So another way to celebrate this day is to decorate for Valentine's Day!

I love how so many things that we do today, whether we take them seriously or consider them folklore, are all interconnected... representing times passed.  So have fun with this day... after all... a little head start on Spring Cleaning couldn't hurt right?

I have something very special sitting in those three little jars that you see there...

Calendula Oil
Comfrey Oil
Calendula Honey

What are they to be used for?  Well... Calendula Officinalis is great for many skin irritations because of it's anti-inflammatory, anti-microbial, anti-fungal, anti-viral, and astringent properties.  So therefore this oil could be used for a number of different things such as salves, lip balm, and on it's own.  I've also infused some Calendula with honey to use as a facial cleanser!

Comfrey (Symphytum officinale) is a very healing herb that can heal wounds quickly because of it's allantoin properties... it can also stop bleeding and reduce inflammation which makes it the perfect herb to make a salve out of as well.  There are a tons more uses for both Comfrey and Calendula and if you're interested in learning more, I definitely recommend checking Herb Mentor!

Here are the materials I gathered to make my infused oils.  For the Comfrey oil I will be using Cold Pressed Organic Olive Oil and for the Calendula oil I'm using Almond Oil.
Next I filled my small (8 oz) jars half full with the herbs making sure that they are packed in.
Next I filled my jars up with the designated oil for each herb, making sure to leave about an inch of head space.  I just fill up to the first line of the screw top portion.  Next I gave them both a stir to get all the herbs and oil combined and to get all the bubbles out... after doing this I noticed the oil levels went down a bit so I made sure to top them off...  
Next I cover them up with a paper towel and the screw top ring that came with the jar.  The paper towels are used to seep up any moisture and excess oil.  I also labeled each jar so I know exactly what they are since they will be sitting for a few weeks before using. 
All done!  Well... for now... these jars will sit for three weeks total.  In the first week I need to stir them every day to make sure the herbs are covered and within the oil otherwise it's possible they could get moldy.  Even after the first week it's a good idea to watch them carefully and make sure they are doing well.  After the third week I'll be showing you guys how I strain them out and make magickal little goodies out of these awesome herbal infused oils! 

I did almost the exact same process for my Calendula infused honey... the only difference was I only filled the jar 1/4 of the way with packed herbs, filled the jar with honey, gave it a stir and screwed on it's regular top.  The honey also will sit for three weeks and each day I pass it I will be turning it over and letting it sit so it gives itself a stir. 
And just for fun here's my kitty who loves to watch me conjure up our magickal remedies...  I'm guessing he's wanting some of that delicious honey too...
Check out some other wonderful homesteading blogs over at the
Homestead Revival's Homestead Barn Hop!
"Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food."
~ Hippocrates

Yay!! I'm so excited to start participating again in the Homestead Revival's Preparedness Challenge!  It's the perfect timing too... We have moved into another rental house with no basement and we need to re-think our tornado preparedness plan.

So let's just get down to business shall we?  The following lays out our family's plan in case of a tornado warning.

Emergency Kit (to be kept in the bathroom):
3 gallons of water
First Aid Kit
Helmet for our son
Jar of Peanut butter

If there is a tornado WATCH prepare bathroom with:
Weather radio
Large couch cushion
Line bathtub with a blanket and pillows
Bag of building blocks for our son
Additional Snacks, water bottle for our son
Take helmet out of emergency kit and place into the bathtub
Put cats in crate and into the bathroom

If there is a tornado WARNING we will:
Gather in the bathroom 
Put helmet on our son
Our son can play with blocks in the bathtub
If it's nighttime we can lay our son in the bathtub with blankets and pillows
TRY and bring our pup into the bathroom with us

If a tornado TOUCHES DOWN:
All of us into the bathtub
Mommy shelters boy
Daddy shelters mommy
Daddy pulls large couch cushion over all three of us

My husband and I are very happy with this plan and hope that it won't need to be utilized too much.  We live in a large county where if there is a tornado warning and sirens are going off it still may be several miles away from us... hence the building blocks for our son.  I remember last year having to be down in our basement for a while as sirens were going off but nothing of course ever came near us.  Now that our son is older I know he will be bored during those times and I figure building blocks will keep his mind off the fact that he has to be sitting in a tub with no water just waiting. 

As of right now we only have one helmet for our son that we found for $2 at the thrift store... Our plan is to keep an eye out for more for my husband and I.  This is our son's helmet...
I hope our plan could help some of you think about what your plans are... especially if you do not have basements.  Feel free to make any suggestions as we are new to tornadoes and easily may have missed something. 

Also make sure to check out Homestead Revival for other preparedness challenge posts. 
One of the things I've learned so far in my herbal education through Herb Mentor is how to make a nourishing herbal infusion.  This sort of infusion is meant to be taken daily to stay on top of your health and well-being.  I consider it to be similar to taking your daily vitamin... better in fact since it is in liquid form and goes straight into your system.

The herb I've chosen to make my nourishing infusion with is Oatstraw.  Oatstraw acts as a restorative nerve tonic which helps with stress and exhaustion (what mom doesn't need help with that right?).  It is also high in calcium, chromium, magnesium, niacin, silicon and vitamin A. 

To make my infusion I put one ounce of dried Oatstraw into a 1 quart mason jar.  I filled the jar with just boiled filtered water all the way to the top leaving one inch of head space.  I gave it a little stir to make sure all the herbs were covered in water and then screwed the top on.  I typically let this sit overnight but in case I don't get to it the night before I let it sit for a minimum of four hours before straining and drinking!  When I strain the herbs I make sure to get some cheesecloth and squeeze out all the excess infusion from the herbs because it's all good stuff coming out of there.  Then I put it in the refrigerator and drink throughout the day! 

I have only done this a couple of times and I'm going to begin doing it daily as it is recommended.  After about a week or so I'm going to write an update on how I'm feeling and any changes I've noticed.  I'm excited to see some results!!

** Please note... I am NOT an herbalist nor do I work in any type of medical field.  I am simply a student wishing to learn all I can about the beautiful and wonderful herbs we have growing all around us and I simply want to share all my experiences with my readers.  If you are wanting to learn more about herbs and their uses I highly recommend checking Herb Mentor!

One of my favorite childhood memories while growing up is my mother cooking.  She is a wonderful cook... whether following a recipe or conjuring up something on her own (which of course were always my favorite)... she just had a knack for it all.  Cooking, baking, entertaining.... Anything that had to do with her being in the kitchen she was great at.  One specific memory I have... and it's something that she still takes pride in... is the way she presented her dishes.  It's her favorite thing to do.  It didn't matter if it was just us kids and she had a long hard work week (she was a single mom and worked harder and longer than anyone I've ever known) she would still present us with meals delicately placed onto beautiful dishes with a garnish here and there.  ESPECIALLY breakfast... There is something about my mom and breakfast that makes her want to serve it as though she is running a Bed&Breakfast.  Even when she comes to visit... you can fully expect a gorgeous arrangement of treats when you wake up Sunday morning.

I have always enjoyed bringing a meal that I worked hard on to my husband or a guest and watching them taste and enjoy what I've prepared... but to present it in a beautiful way... On a tray, with a flower, a folded napkin... perhaps a miniature salt and pepper shaker for their own personal use... anything at all can bring magick to a meal and it gives me great delight to see the blissful satisfaction of the person eating that meal.  Even if it's just you... why not take the opportunity to dish up a simple meal into a delicious and adorable serving for one.  The other morning my son was napping, my husband was at work and I was ready for my typical breakfast of yogurt, granola and berries.  As I grabbed a little bowl I hesitated for a moment, put the bowl back and went to where I have the glasses and grabbed a little wine glass.  I layered the berries, granola yogurt and grabbed a cute little colorful bowl for my cashews.  What I would have devoured in a few minutes became a delectable parfait which inspired me to sit down and contently take pleasure in my breakfast. 

Take a moment and give this a try.  Whether it's for a dinner party or just for yourself... it could be as simple as serving something up in an unusual way, or even looking online to learn how to fold a napkin in an intricate way.  Consider grabbing some of those adorable ice cube trays that come in different shapes... perhaps hearts or stars.  Be creative and bring some magick into your meals so you can enjoy them with the gratitude and love!
"That's the thing about magic; you've got to know its still here, all around us,
or it just stays invisible for you." ~Charles De Lint
Meet my magickal pie hutch... it has always and forever been one of my favorite things!  This hutch has always been in my life since the day I was born.  It was a gift to my mother from my father many moons ago and it warms my heart each and every time I pass it.  There is definitely magick afoot within these hutch doors... My mother was kind enough to "loan" it to me on our adventurous move to the Midwest and I am currently using it as my herb cabinet!  I hope one day I am able to pass it on to my children who will hopefully adore it as much as I do... For I know it will still be standing strong.

Other Magickal Happenings
Made From Scratch
First and foremost I must say that what I'm about to write is strictly my opinion on the information I've found... I encourage you to do your own research and make an informed and educated decision on what products you choose to use.

I am...or I should say "was"... a buyer of California Baby products and have been since my son was born two years ago... I made the choice to buy their products because they offered body wash and lotions made with minimal ingredients non of which included chemicals.  Today I found out through a chat room that California Baby has changed their ingredients to include sodium benzoate & glucoonolactone.  According to consumers... babies are breaking out into welts and rashes and didn't understand until they discovered the change in ingredients.

Now you may look at those ingredients and say to yourself... I'm fine with that.  And that's perfectly okay.  My point is I just want you to be INFORMED.  And even if the ingredients don't sound that bad... the real test is whether or not the child will have an adverse reaction.  Most of the time... when a parent is buying California Baby products it is because their baby's skin is very sensitive like my son's.... and I personally am not willing to test it out on him.  The more we educate ourselves the safer our children are.

Other Magickal Happenings
Made From Scratch